Citizen Dive Watches: A Comprehensive Guide from Eco-Drives to Automatics

Citizen Dive Watches: A Comprehensive Guide from Eco-Drives to Automatics

Citizen Watch Co. of Japan has been making watches for 100 years, and a glance at the brand’s current portfolio reveals that quite a few of those watches are dive watches. It’s not surprising, since Citizen has been in the business of supplying watches for divers since the early 1980s, and has been extending the variety of styles, functionalities, and even movement types available in the various collections ever since. So how do you decide on whether you want your first (or next) Citizen dive watch to be an Eco-Drive or an automatic? An everyday-wear Fugu, a multipurpose Aqualand, or a deep-diving Eco-Zilla? Our comprehensive guide is here to help you, with a brief history of Citizen dive watches and a rundown of all the styles available today.

Swiss watchmakers began embracing purpose-built, water-resistant divers’ watches in the early 1950s, while their contemporaries in Japan came aboard a decade or so later. As many history-minded watch enthusiasts are aware, it was Citizen’s competitor, Seiko, that released the first Japanese-made divers’ watch, in 1965. However, Citizen’s Parawater, regarded as the first “water-resistant” Japanese watch, preceded it to market six years earlier, in 1959. The Parawater watches (as above) were waterproof to 50 meters of depth, an impressive feat for the era, and they were the forerunners of Citizen’s contemporary line of dive watches, which began in the 1960s but really kicked into gear with the release of the Promaster Marine in 1982. (Citizen dive watches, despite their diversity, all fall under the “Promaster” category today.) That same year, Citizen released its 1300m Professional Diver’s Watch, its first in a titanium case, which went into the record books as the most water-resistant watch in serial production at the time.

Citizen continued to innovate in the dive-watch space throughout the 1980s, the same era that gave rise to the manufacturer’s most important and identity-defining invention, the light-powered Eco-Drive movement. The first Citizen Aqualand debuted in 1985 as the first quartz diving watch with a digital depth gauge. (Photo above via Analog/Shift.) Building upon that legacy, Citizen introduced the original “Fugu” dive watch in 1989, whose large bezel with alternating smooth and serrated edges made the watch’s case resemble the puffer fish that gave it its nickname (and later its actual model name). The launch of the Fugu marked the modern era of the Promaster family within the Citizen portfolio, which today consists of watches aimed at land, sea, and air professionals. It is the “sea” branch of the family, of course, that we’ll be focusing on here, starting with all the major models equipped with Eco-Drive calibers, then showcasing the watches powered by mechanical, self-winding calibers from Citizen’s movement supplier, Miyota.

ECO-DRIVE:

Promaster Dive 200M 

Price: $300 - $395, Case Size: 44mm, Thickness: 11.6mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 200 meters, Movement: Citizen Eco-Drive E168

The core Promaster Dive models, equipped with the proprietary Eco-Drive technology, have proven to be among the most popular of the Japanese brand’s vast portfolio of timepieces. This model’s 44mm steel case features a 60-click rotating bezel made of aluminum (here in maritime blue) and a screw-down crown positioned at 4 o’clock. The blue dial sports wide hands and large applied hour markers, all generously lumed for underwater visibility, and a date window at 4 o’clock. The prominent minute hand with its orange detailing adds another layer of contrast, and hence legibility, to the dial. The Eco-Drive movement offers six months of power on a full charge and boasts an accuracy of +/- 15 seconds per month. 

Promaster Dive 200M Super Titanium “Retro-Zilla”

Price: $595 - $650, Case Size: 46mm, Thickness: 13.5mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Citizen Eco-Drive E168

The so-called “Retro-Zilla” version of the 200M Promaster Dive offers the same water resistance (200 meters) and the same Eco-Drive movement (Caliber E168) as the round-cased model above but in a substantially larger, more offbeat, and more vintage-inspired package. The rugged, landmine-shaped case is a modern take on the chunky case of Citizen’s first dive watch from 1982, the Professional 1300M Diver. It is constructed from Citizen’s ultra-hard “Super Titanium,” with a scratch-resistant Duratect DLC coating, and includes a lockable, one-way rotating dive-scale bezel and a knurled, screwed crown at 3 o’clock. Dial options include the camouflage pattern pictured above, in dark blue or green, and a full-lume version. 

Promaster Dive 200M “Orca”

Price: $323, Case Size: 46mm, Thickness: 14.6mm, Lug-to-Lug: 50.5mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Citizen Eco-Drive Caliber E168

With its massive 46mm steel case, whose bulging contours were inspired by a killer whale, and a unidirectional ratcheting bezel with a coin edge and deep notches for gloved fingers, the “Orca” version of the Promaster Diver is built for serious deep-sea exploits. The dial’s stylized curving indexes also evoke the silhouette of the eponymous sea mammal while the distinctive hands are coated with Super-LumiNova. The thick, antimagnetic case resists water pressures down to an ISO-compliant 200 meters and houses an Eco-Drive caliber that will run for 180 months on a single charge from any light while also boasting a +/-15-second monthly accuracy. An image of a swimming orca graces the solid steel caseback, and a raised ridge in the center of the black rubber strap evokes the whale’s dorsal fin.

Promaster Dive 300M “Eco-Zilla”

Price: $595, Case Size: 48mm, Thickness: 18.5mm, Lug-to-Lug: 56mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 300m, Movement: Citizen Eco-Drive Caliber B873

Pushing the boundaries of both wrist wearability and water resistance are the “Eco-Zilla” models, which feature silver-toned, round, steel cases, measuring a stately 48mm in diameter, with deep grooves on the diver’s bezel that makes the massive case resemble (to some commentators) a large ashtray, especially viewed from the side. The screw-down crown is unconventionally placed on the left side of the case, and the dial’s hands and indexes are just about as wide and lume-soaked as you’d probably want them to be for the deep dives that this 300-meter water resistant watch is built for. Inside is the Eco-Drive Caliber B873, driving the three-handed time display and a small date indication at 3 o’clock. The watches are mounted on tough, ribbed polyurethane straps.

Promaster Aqualand 200M Depth Meter

Price: $750 - $975, Case Diameter: 47mm, Thickness: 16mm, Lug-to-Lug: 52mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Eco-Drive J250

The big, rugged, multifunctional Aqualand models are perhaps Citizen’s most utilitarian dive watches, with analog and digital displays including the signature depth gauge feature that distinguished the original model back in 1985. A wristwatch that can be ably pressed into service as a reliable backup to a dive computer, the Promaster Dive Aqualand 200M Depth Meter featured here has a 47mm steel case and a color-coded, all-analog dial display, beneath and impact-resistant mineral crystal, with separate hands for time and depth tracking, all driven by the Eco-Drive movement inside. The depth gauge can display readings up to 70 meters and incorporates an electronic memory for maximum depth reached. Rounding out the well-organized dial, framed by a 60-minute rotating diver’s bezel, are a power-reserve indicator and a date window at 3 o’clock.

Promaster Sailhawk

Price: $550, Case Diameter: 44mm, Lug Width: 22mm, Crystal: Mineral, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Eco-Drive C660

Citizen reached beyond the Promaster Dive's core audience of scuba divers with the Promaster Sailhawk, a multifunction analog-digital timepiece powered by a quartz Eco-Drive movement that is packed with useful tech for sailors and yachtsmen. It’s got a fairly large 44mm case in stainless steel, with a rotating aluminum bezel emblazoned with compass indications, which is water-resistant to 200 meters. Its array of indications include the current time in both analog and digital formats; a 99-minute countdown timer plus a timer for yacht racing; dual-time and world time indicators; a 1/100-second chronograph with split and lap times; two digital alarms; daylight-savings time notifications; and a backlight display for the digital displays. The Sailhawk fastens to the wrist with a polyurethane strap that is color-matched to the bezel and the dial details.

Promaster 1000M Professional Diver Super Titanium

 

Price: $2,300, Case Diameter: 53mm, Thickness: 28mm, Lug Width: 28.12mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 1,000m, Movement: Eco-Drive J210

The Promaster “Sea” model at the pinnacle of water resistance, wrist presence, and price is the 1000M Professional Diver, whose Super Titanium case spans 53mm in diameter and more than 28mm in thickness. The depth rating of 1,000 meters puts this model firmly in the “professional” category as well as in the upper echelon of all dive watches in terms of robustness. The one-way-rotating elapsed time bezel is fitted with a locking mechanism, and the case features a built-in helium-release valve that speaks to this model’s true audience, i.e., saturation divers that ply their trade inside a diving bell at extreme depths and need to regularly expel helium from their watch. The black dial has a set of highly luminous, generously sized hour markers, and wide luminous hands; the numerals on the bezel are also extra-large. At 9 o’clock on the dial is an analog power-reserve indicator, alerting the wearer to how much energy remains in the movement, the Eco-Drive Caliber J210.

AUTOMATIC:

Promaster Dive 200M “Fugu” Automatic

Price: $550 - $595, Case Size: 44mm, Thickness: 12.8mm, Lug-to-Lug: 50mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Automatic Miyota 8204

Deriving its nickname from the Japanese word for a puffer fish — a reference to the distinctively grooved shape of the rotating divers’ bezel — the “Fugu” model from Citizen’s first Promaster Diver family in 1989 was revived for modern audiences in 2018 and outfitted with a new automatic movement. The green dial on the featured model is framed by a matching green dive-scale bezel. The hefty steel case (44mm) features a textured screw-down at the unusual position of 8 o’clock, which prevents it from poking into the small of a diver’s wrist. The hands and hour indexes are thick and brightly luminous-coated for underwater legibility; at 3 o’clock, the hour marker gives way to a day-date window. The self-winding Miyota Caliber 8204, ticks inside, providing a 40-hour power reserve.

Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M “Fujitsubo”

Price: $795 - $1,195, Case Size: 41mm, Thickness: 12.3mm, Lug Width: 20mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Automatic Miyota 9051

A modern model with an intriguing historical background, the Promaster Mechanical Diver 200M, aka Challenge Diver and “Fujitsubo,” takes its cues from a 1977 watch that was lost in the ocean and recovered years later on Australia’s Long Beach Reef, still ticking and covered in barnacles. (“Fujitsubo” is Japanese for “barnacle.”) Starting under $1,000, the watch is one of the most affordable titanium-cased options on the market, and also one of the most widely wearable Citizen divers at a relatively modest 41mm in size. The dial’s hour markers are wide and luminous, similar to those on the “Fugu” models, but the hands are notably different, particularly the "Mercedes”-style hour hand that calls to mind Rolex’s classic Submariner design. The font on the bezel is also different, a bit bolder and more angular. The automatic Miyota movement inside the Super Titanium case beats at 28,800 vph, holds a power reserve of 42 hours, and runs at an accuracy of around -10/+20 seconds daily. The watches come on a steel bracelet (pictured) or a polyurethane strap with a raised, square-pattern texture.

Promaster Dive Automatic Super Titanium

Price: $1,095 - $1,295, Case Size: 46mm, Lug Width: 24mm, Crystal: Sapphire, Water Resistance: 200m, Movement: Automatic Miyota 9051

Standing apart from both the Fugu and Fujitsubo watches in the Promaster Dive collection are a handful of models in Citizen’s proprietary Duratect-coated Super Titanium. Their cases are larger (46mm diameter) and feature more conventionally placed knurled crowns at 3 o’clock on the right side of the case. Visually, these watches are distinguished by the textured “pyramid stud” pattern on both the unidirectional easy-grip bezel and the dial; the bezel’s raised-relief numerals and visible screws; and the use of semicrcular luminous hour-markers on the dial in place of the thick rectangles and trapezoids on most other models. Water-resistant to 200 meters and mounted to either a polyurethane strap or a Super Titanium bracelet, these models are among the most premium in terms of pricing, starting just over $1,000.

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